Before he leaves for his final foreign trip as president, Pres. Obama met the press in the briefing room today. “I wanted to see if I could clear up some of the underbrush so that when we’re overseas and people are asking about foreign policy questions, people don’t feel obliged to tack on three other questions to them,” Obama said, adding, “I know you still will, yes. But I’m trying something out here.”
In his opening remarks Pres. Obama also acknowledged the death of PBS NewsHour anchor Gwen Ifill.
I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill’s family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. Gwen was a friend of ours. She was an extraordinary journalist. She always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews. Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or at the anchor desk, she not only informed today’s citizens but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists. She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, tenacity and intellect and for whom she blazed a trail as one-half of the first all-female anchor team on network news. Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today.
Obama called first on Colleen Nelson of the Wall Street Journal who is leaving the White House beat and moving to Kansas City. “[Press Secy.] Josh Earnest just happens to be from Kansas City,” Obama joked. Nelson asked about Donald Trump’s win and the future of the democratic party. “I think term limits are a really useful thing,” said Obama, adding, “I think the democrats should not waver on our core beliefs.”
Mark Knoller of CBS News got the second question. He asked about “the learning curve when becoming president.” “It is like no other job on earth,” said Obama.
The third question was for Athena Jones of CNN who asked about Obama’s past statements about Trump not being fit for office and about Steve Bannon being named Trump’s senior advisor. “Without copping out, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every decision the President-elect starts making,” said Obama. “Look, the people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president, the 45th president of the United States. And it will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well and reflect his policies, and those who didn’t vote for him.”
Question four went to Scott Horsley of NPR who asked about voters seeking course corrections with Trump’s election. “I think the American people recognize that the world has shrunk, that it’s interconnected, that you’re not going to put that genie back in the bottle. The American people recognize that their careers or their kids’ careers are going to have to be more dynamic,” said Obama.
“I don’t think he is ideological. I think he is pragmatic,” Obama said of Trump, adding, “Do I have concerns? Of course I have concerns. He and I differ on a whole bunch of issues. But the federal government and our democracy is not a speedboat, it’s an ocean liner.”
The 6th question when to Nadia Bilbassy of Al Arabiya News. She asked about the Iranian nuclear deal and the situation in Syria.
Last question went to Justin Sink at Bloomberg who asked about immigration policy, specifically Obama’s executive order DACA, and about the future of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. “It is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing, because of Congressional restrictions that have been placed on us,” he said.